Advertising Empire: Race and Visual Culture in Imperial Germany

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, Jan 3, 2011 - History - 462 pages
0 Reviews
In the last decades of the nineteenth century Germany made the move towards colonialism, with the first German protectorates in Africa. At the same time, Germany was undergoing the transformation to a mass consumer society. As Ciarlo shows, these developments grew along with one another, as the earliest practices of advertising drew legitimacy from the colonial project, and around the turn of the century, commercial imagery spread colonial visions to a mass audience. Arguing that visual commercial culture was both reflective and constitutive of changing colonial relations and of racial hierarchies, Advertising Empire constructs what one might call a genealogy of black bodies in German advertising. At the core of the manuscript is the identification of visual tropes associated with black bodies in German commercial culture, ranging from colonial and ethnographic exhibits, to poster art, to advertising. Stereotypical images of black bodies in advertising coalesced, the manuscript argues, in the aftermath of uprisings against German colonial power in Southwest and East Africa in the early 20th century. As Advertising Empire shows for Germany, commercial imagery of racialized power relations simplified the complexities of colonial power relations. It enshrined the inferiority of blacks as compared to whites as one key image associated with the birth of mass consumer society.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Commercial Exhibitions and Colonial Expositions
Allegorical Clichés Panoptic Arrays and Popular Savagery
3 Masters of the Modern Exotic
Commercial Visuality at the Fin de Siècle
Patterns of Racialization before 1900
6 Racial Imperium

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

David Ciarlo is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Bibliographic information